Economic Development Tourism Historic Preservation
Calhoun County, Iowa

There’s nothing like a classic car to make you feel young. The rumble of the engine and the view of the road ahead create a cool vibe. Everything looks and feels different than it would in a new car, especially when you’re cruising Calhoun County. 

The styling of a classic car possesses the power to stop people in their tracks, whether you cruise over to a local car show or pull up at the Lake City Drive-In. No one knows this better than Nathan Gentry, who owns Gentry Restorations & Kustoms in Rockwell City. 

While some customers want their car or truck restored exactly like it was when it was new, most want a “restomod.” This retains the original style but includes modern and aftermarket parts like four-wheel disc brakes and gauges that weren’t on the vehicle when it came from the factory. 

“Many of my customers are at the point in their life where they’ve raised their family, and they want their Chevelle or Challenger back,” said Gentry, who grew up working on his dad’s 1929 Model A roadster. “They want those good memories back.” 

Running his own shop in his hometown suits Gentry, who graduated from WyoTech with specialized training in auto body work, paint and hot rod/street-rod fabrication. He handles a wide range of restoration projects, from overhauling a 1971 Chevy Chevelle to repainting a 1973 Plymouth Barracuda. 

What’s his favorite build? “My next one,” said Gentry, whose son Wyatt, 5, is a gearhead-in-training who serves as his “shop foreman.” “I meet some really great people in this business. Each classic car has its own story.” 

Creating a sense of community 

Joe Berger, co-owner of Champion Chrysler in Rockwell City, is creating new avenues to experience Calhoun County by classic car, thanks to his Cruisin’ Third and Main project. He’s restoring the DX gas station/car dealership that was built in 1939 on Main Street in in Lohrville.

The revitalized building will serve as a venue for car shows, cruise-in nights, live music, vendor and flea markets, and fundraisers and more. “People are excited by this potential,” Berger said. “Classic cars and classic buildings like this help create a sense of community.”

written by Darcy Maulsby

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